We continue the countdown of the top 10 Huskies entering the 2012 season — one a day until camp begins Aug. 6 — with the player who projects as the leader of the offensive line, fifth-year senior center Drew Schaefer.
However, there’s a chance — based on the comments of UW coach Steve Sarkisian at this week’s Pac-12 Media Day —- Schaefer could end up at left tackle, which we discussed earlier this week.
Wherever he ends up, Schaefer will be UW’s most experienced offensive linemen this season.
Schaefer has 30 career starts, including all 13 last season at center. He also had 11 starts at center in 2010 (along with two at right tackle against Arizona and Oregon State) and started the last four games of the 2009 season at left tackle.
The only other UW OLs who have started games are junior Erik Kohler (18 over the past two seasons, 14 at right tackle and four at right guard)) and sophomore Colin Tanigawa (11 last year at left guard).
That adds up to 59, one of the lower totals for the Huskies in recent years and shy of the 75-80 range that some analysts say is a good predictor of success for a line (which doesn’t mean it’s the only one, just that history generally shows that the best lines tend also to be experienced).
On the other hand, UW’s total isn’t that out of line with the rest of the Pac-12. Here’s a breakdown from Phil Steele (who has a little different number than I do for the total of UW’s starts, but not enough to make a difference):
Oregon State 50
Arizona State 47
So for the most part, everybody in the Pac-12 returns fairly similar experience up front with the exception of Stanford, which lost two All-Americans in left tackle Jonathan Martin and right guard David DeCastro. (Stanford, though, has recruited really well on the OL the last few years, the reason a lot of observers think the Cardinal will still be pretty good up front).
As for Schaefer, as the most experienced member of a line that took an unexpected hit in the spring with the loss of Colin Porter, his value can hardly be overstated.
While the UW OL struggled in the spring with the loss of Porter and the absence of Tanigawa (who is expected to be back for fall camp), Schaefer was also in and out of the lineup a little bit with what was termed a sprained knee, which obviously contributed to the travails, as well. As Sarkisian said at media day, having him 100 percent healthy for camp will be vital as the Huskies try to come up with the best grouping.
Schaefer unquestionably will be somewhere in that mix.
No 10: Justin Glenn
No 9: Hau’oli Jamora